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Competition slackens UN's climate change programmes: Action Aid

Apr 06, 2011

Action Aid has opposed the investments made by multilateral funding agencies and rich nations for climate change programmes outside those run by the United Nations. The organisation says those funds should have been diverted to implement the more responsible UN’s climate change policies.

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Bangkok: Industrialised countries, led by the United States, are undermining United Nations efforts to tackle climate change by funding climate change adaptation programmes outside the U.N. system, an international aid agency charged at this week’s climate talks in Bangkok.

The Climate Investment Funds, set up in January 2008, administered by the World Bank and funded by 13 developed countries including the U.K, Korea and Japan, have so far received more than $6 billion from donors. The associated Pilot Program on Climate Resilience (PPCR) alone has a budget of $945 million, said Harjeet Singh, ActionAid’s international climate justice coordinator.

In contrast, the Adaptation Fund under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), has received only around $60 million in contributions since it was set up in December 2008, he said.

This “deliberate marginalisation” of the UN-run fund “is a major concern,” Singh told AlertNet on Monday on the sidelines of the first U.N. climate negotiations of the year.

“This raises serious questions about community access and participation, as well as the possibility of economic policy conditions being attached to loans and grants,” Singh said.

The Climate Investment Funds, to which the United States is the biggest donor, are channelled through multilateral banks such as the Asian Development Bank, African Development Bank and World Bank.  The PPCR has a separate governance structure, but it is still managed by the World Bank, Singh said.

Singh and others say the World Bank has a long history of supporting questionable development policies and investment in fossil fuel projects that have helped to accelerate climate change.

Supporters of the funds, however, say all possible avenues of raising funds for climate adaptation need to be explored, and that large international banks have the experience and infrastructure to effectively administer large funds.

Adaptation Committee

This week’s talks in Bangkok are part of ongoing international negotiations aimed at agreeing a new binding global treaty to curb and address the impacts of climate change.

Singh said civil society organisations would like to see the Bangkok talks include discussion on the formation of an Adaptation Committee under the UNFCCC that would identify and recommend adaptation programmes, policies and funding needs at a global level.

“What we at Action Aid are pushing for is to come out with a strong adaptation committee which is much more representative and has more developing countries and participation of civil society as well,” Singh said.

But such a committee may not be able to guide adaptation policies around the world if it is overshadowed because multilateral banks are getting much of the funding for large adaptation projects.

Lack of political will remains a major obstacle to setting up an effective adaptation committee, he said.

“We all know how you can form a good committee; we all know how you can come out with a good framework,” Singh said. “There’s no dearth of knowledge or experience even on adaptation. A lot of work has already started. It’s just a lack of political will.”

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